Weekly Workers’ Round-up: Thousands Rally for Tax Increases, Notre Dame Activists Fast

Jennifer Braudaway

Thousands rally for tax increases to save jobs and education

Around 15,000 teachers, public employees and union workers rallied for tax increases on Wednesday, outside the state capitol in Springfield, Ill. Protesters demanded that lawmakers push through Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed 33 percent income tax increase, which has stalled in the House. Around 5,000 members of the Illinois Education Association attended the rally as part of the Save Our Schools/​Save Our State campaign (video above), which is pressuring lawmakers to solve the state budget crisis. The budget shortfall is expected to cost up to 20,000 education jobs by this summer. Read more here and here.

Waste Management workers strike for benefits

On Tuesday, Waste Management Inc. garbage workers in Washington’s King and Snohomish counties walked off the job, affecting 18,000 Seattle residents. Around 400 workers, represented by the Teamsters Union, are on strike as a result of failed contract negotiations with Waste Management. The union is seeking medical benefits that are equal to those offered by two other contractors in the region, CleanScapes and Allied Waste, and claims the company has been bargaining in bad faith. Read more here.

Ironworkers demand local hiring

Also on Tuesday, members of the Iron Workers Union and Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation (ACT) picketed in downtown Charleston, W.Va to protest Birdair Inc. for not hiring local labor for its Haddad Riverfront Park construction project. Leader of ACT Wayne Rebish says Birdair, a construction contractor based in N.Y., has hired 8 non-local ironworkers even though 80 local ironworkers are out of work. Read more here.

Notre Dame students fast for fair labor practices

A coalition of 13 student activists in South Bend, Ind. have been fasting this week in protest of the University of Notre Dame’s investments in HEI Hotels and Resorts, a company that they say has a history of unethical labor practices. The students, who are wearing orange jumpsuits and keeping daylight hours outside the university’s main building, started their fast on Sunday night and will continue until 5 p.m. on Friday. Read more here and here.

Nursing home workers strike for better working conditions

Workers at four Spectrum Healthcare nursing homes went on strike this week in Ansonia, Derby, Hartford and Winsted, Conn., to protest unfair labor practices including worker intimidation and unsafe working conditions. The workers, including nurses, nursing assistants and elder-care support staff, have been without a contract since March 2009. As part of the strike, they plan to picket every day from 6 a.m. to midnight until a settlement is reached. To read more, go here.

State employees fight for public pensions

In Sacramento, Calif., thousands of state employees arrived at the state capitol on Wednesday to fight for public pensions. A new bill introduced by St. Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) will raise the retirement age and cause workers to have to make larger contributions to their retirement. The current public pensions system is underfunded by $500 billion. Read more here.

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Jennifer Braudaway is a Winter 2010 Web intern.
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